Award-winning Chef Bill Kim was born in Seoul, Korea and immigrated to the United States at age 7. His first formal kitchen duty – roasting sesame seeds and grinding them using a mortar and pestle – sparked his interest in pursuing a culinary career.
Chef Kim’s expansive culinary background spans a wide range of varied cuisines. After studying classic French cooking at Kendall College, Chef Kim pursued opportunities to work alongside industry greats including Pierre Pollin at le Titi de Paris in Arlington Heights, IL and Jean Banchet at Ciboulette in Atlanta. From there, Chef Kim served as sous chef at notable kitchens throughout the country including the renowned four-star Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, Bouley Bakery in New York and Susanna Foo in Philadelphia. After several years on the East Coast, he was drawn back to Chicago to serve as chef de cuisine at Charlie Trotter’s before taking the helm of French-Asian Le Lan.
Chef Kim is widely considered to be a pioneer in the movement of fine dining chefs introducing casual concepts. In 2008 he opened urbanbelly, a bustling communal-seating restaurant featuring creative and soul-satisfying noodle, dumpling and rice dishes. One year later, Chef Kim paid tribute to his Korean heritage and his wife’s Puerto Rican background by opening Belly Shack, a confluence of Asian and Latin flavors in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. In August 2012, Chef Kim opened bellyQ, a modern Asian barbecue concept on Chicago’s thriving Randolph Street. After five successful years operating urbanbelly in Avondale, Chef Kim expanded the menu and relocated the restaurant to reside alongside bellyQ in the West Loop. A second urbanbelly location opened in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood in early 2016.
Chicago Eats: A Conversation with Local Legends + Food Entrepreneurs
Learn what it takes to turn a passion into a business with our panel of foodpreneurs. Learn about the Chicago landscape, resources, key players, and more.